Tag Archive | Irwandi Yusuf

Graft suspected in palm oil conversion

This photo made available on June 29th, 2012 showing numerous illegally lit fires continue to rage the peat swamp forest of Tripa, SOCP/YEL (Handouts/Editorial use ONLY)

Sita W. Dewi, The Jakarta Post, Banda Aceh

Tue, July 10 2012, 9:18 AM
Paper Edition | Page: 4

Smoke rising from several spots scattered throughout more than 61,000 hectares of carbon-rich Tripa peat swamp forests in Nagan Raya regency, Aceh, could be easily seen from a Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft flying low above the area on Thursday last week.

Onboard the airplane were a number of top officials from agencies tasked with investigating a case involving palm oil company PT Kallista Alam, which was alleged to be responsible for the fires that have threatened the ecosystem of about 200 orangutans living in the area.

The case also caught the attention of the global community and has tainted the reputation of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has only recently returned from the Rio +20 Summit where he touted his green initiatives, which include programs like a moratorium on deforestation.

A petition signed by concerned individuals from around the world, questioning the Indonesian government’s ability to halt the environmental destruction at Tripa, have prompted the authorities to take action.

The police, the Environment Ministry and the Forestry Ministry are all on the case, with the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) pushing for action.

The UKP4’s visit to the site was part of a move to examine the situation on the ground and collect evidence against the palm oil company.

Technicalities in the law, however, have hamstrung the investigation.

Aerial photographs of the Tripa peat swamp, for example, cannot be used as evidence by the investigation team.

“Based on the Information and Transaction Law, photographs can be only be used as evidence if they are backed up by an official report from the investigation and direct [confirmation and] testimonies from employees from the company who joined the trip,” the Environment Ministry’s investigation division head, Shaifuddin Akbar, said at the Cut Nyak Dien airport in Nagan Raya last week after wrapping up the aerial inspection. PT Kallista Alam’s employees were unavailable to take part in the task force’s investigative fly-over.

Akbar added that the team also had conducted a ground check to complete their investigative report.

Environment Ministry’s head investigator Sudariyono said that his team found strong indications that PT Kallista Alam, had deliberately burned the peat swamp to convert the area to an oil palm plantation.

“First, an aerial view showed a pattern to the burning of the forest, a strong indication that it was planned. Second, we could see that the company had done nothing to put out the fire, let alone implement preventive measures against fire. We found no personnel or fire fighting equipment stationed in the area.

Sudariyono said that all offenses were found in peatland protected by a governmental regulation.

“Our ground check found that Rawa Tripa was a peatland with a depth of three meters or more, meaning that it is protected under a 1990 presidential decree,” Sudariyono said.

He said that the investigation team was expected to file a criminal and civil suit against PT Kallista Alam and seek damages for causing environmental destruction in the area.

National Police director for special crimes Brig. Gen. Gatot Subiyaktoro said that preliminary findings indicated that the company had violated Law No. 18/2004 on plantations by conducting illegal land clearing, burning land and planting oil palms without permits.

He added that the police also found irregularities in the issuance of the plantation’s permit.

Then Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf granted the permit to the company on Aug. 25, 2011, contradicting Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 on the moratorium for new permits in primary forests and peatland
conversion.

Gatot said that Irwandi, who recently lost the local election in April to Zaini Abdullah, likely broke the law by overstepping his legal authority, as the issuance of such permit only needed approval from a regent.

“To pursue our investigation, we will question experts on plantation and state administration soon,” Gatot said.

The UKP4 has recommended PT Kallista Alam’s permit be revoked.

Representatives from several NGOs, including the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the Aceh Legal Aid Institute, Wetlands International as well as representatives from the Leuser Ecosystem Management Authority (BPKEL), have demanded the government shut down drainage canals in Tripa peatswamp that were used by the company to drain the peat in order to prevent further degradation of the peatland.

The Tripa peat swamp was included in the Forestry Ministry’s latest “Indicative Moratorium Map” of 65,282,006 hectares of natural forests and peatland that are considered off-limits for commercial activities.

The map serves as a guideline for local administrations when issuing licenses for forest clearance for commercial purposes.

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Fires in Protected Peat Forest Have Companies Feeling the Heat

Fires continued to be set in Tripa’s peat forestl, 13 June 2012, Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia. According to a field team from the coalition of NGO’s to protect Tripa, that visited the area. Fires are continuing to be lit in the highly threatened Tripa Peat Forest for palm oil plantations despite assurances from the Indonesian central government that ‘triple track’ legal action was underway and a small area of the Peat Forest had returned to the moratorium map central to the multibillion agreement between Indonesia and Norway to reduce carbon emission from burning the carbon dense Peat Forests. Photo: Paul Hilton/SOCP/YEL (HANDOUT PHOTO, EDITORIAL USE ONLY)

The Jakarta Globe

Fidelis E. Satriastanti 

The Environment Ministry has found indications of arson in recent fires at the protected Tripa peat forest in Aceh, a senior ministry official said on Sunday.

“It baffles me. We are still investigating, but these fires keep occurring,” said Sudariyono, the ministry’s deputy for legal compliance.

“We have a strong suspicion that the fires are not accidental, judging by how they are shaped. When viewed from above it is very irregular. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a mitigation system, in the sense that no one’s trying to put them out.”

The Tripa swamp is a key habitat of the Sumatran orangutan, a critically endangered species, with 200 individuals believed to be living in the area.

A moratorium map published by the ministry identified Tripa as protected area. Tripa is also part of Leuser Ecosystem, a national strategic area for environmental protection. There is also a law in place that is meant to prohibit the issuance of new concessions on land with peat layers more than three meters deep.

Despite this, two companies, Kallista Alam and Surya Panen Subur 2, received concessions in Tripa.

Kallista’s permit, issued by former Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf, is currently the subject of a legal challenge by activists.

Sudariyono said Surya Panen “was suspected of burning some 1,183 hectares” of land inside the Tripa peat swamp from March 19 to 24 this year.

Kallista, he said, was believed to have burned some 30 hectares of its 1,605-hectare concession in the peat swamp.

The ministry has not concluded its investigation but Sudariyono said his office was already mulling legal action against Kallista and Surya Panen. The companies “could be charged in criminal court over the fires and they could face lawsuits for damaging the forest,” he said.

The Environment Ministry has questioned witnesses from the two companies, nongovernmental organizations, residents and local government offices.

Illegal Indonesian fires threaten great apes

Sydney Morning Herald

Michael Bachelard

This photo made available on June 29th, 2012 showing numerous illegally lit fires continue to rage the peat swamp forest of Tripa, SOCP/YEL (Handouts/Editorial use ONLY)

THE carbon-rich peat forests of northern Sumatra are burning again as palm oil companies break Indonesian law to clear the land for their plantations.

Environmental groups have warned that the local population of critically endangered orang-utans are ”doomed” unless the fires are stopped.

Also, smoke from the burning is at times engulfing cities in Malaysia and Thailand, prompting doctors in Kuala Lumpur recently to warn residents with respiratory problems to wear masks.

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Photographs from the Tripa peat forest in Aceh show widespread burning, which the head investigator of the Indonesian environment ministry, Syarifudin Akbar, estimates now covers almost 2000 hectares.

”This is a criminal case because the law says it’s a crime to open a land by burning,” Mr Akbar told the Herald.

Local environmentalists say the fires are lit by palm oil companies and threaten a population of about 200 orang-utans in this area – one of the densest populations in the world.

More than 3000 of the great apes once lived in the area that is being cleared. Now just 7000 live on the whole island of Sumatra, which has been hit in recent years with uncontrolled clearing of primary forests for palm oil plantations.

The latest fires were detected by satellites monitoring fire activity last week, and confirmed by field staff from local environmental groups.

The environment department, the national police and the government’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) taskforce are investigating.

A spokesman for the REDD taskforce, Achmad Santosa, agreed the forest burning was ”an issue of law enforcement” and that it was ”exactly the job of the REDD taskforce, that is to ensure the enforcement of the law”.

The head of the REDD taskforce, Kuntoro, visited Aceh yesterday to speak to the governor and check the situation on the ground.

But Kamaruddin, a lawyer for the Tripa community, said the investigations now under way were ”proving to be too little too late”, and called for the President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to get involved.

”These companies simply have to be ordered to stop [clearing] immediately and that order to be strictly enforced, otherwise the peat forests and inhabitants of Tripa will be lost forever,” he said.

Dr Yudhoyono has won global applause for pro-conservation statements, the most recent at the Rio+20 summit, where he said: ”deforestation is a thing of the past” and that ”losing our tropical rainforests would constitute the ultimate national, global and planetary disaster”.

But this has not stopped the annual ”burning season” of forests in Borneo and Sumatra – nor the smoke haze over Asia – as companies take advantage of dry weather to prepare the ground for new plantations.

”Despite all these words and statements and speeches about conserving orang-utans and peat lands and reducing carbon emissions … the evidence is there has been no change,” said the director of conservation at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, Ian Singleton.

Part of the area being burnt is owned by the palm oil company PT Kallista Allam, which was granted a concession now under challenge in the Indonesian courts. The former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf said he had granted the concession as a wake-up call to the international community over its inaction on a carbon pricing mechanism in Indonesian forests.

However, a company spokesman told the Herald that the fire had blown into their area from a neighbouring concession.

The owner of that land, PT Agro Maju Raya, could not be contacted.

Indonesia peatland back on protected list in test case | Reuters

May 21 (Reuters) – Indonesia‘s government said on Monday it would protect a strip of peatland in Aceh province at the centre of an international storm over palm oil development, in a case that had become a test of the country’s commitment to halt deforestation.

Indonesia imposed a two-year moratorium on clearing forest last May under a $1 billion climate deal with Norway aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation, but the former governor of the country’s westernmost Aceh province breached the ban by issuing a permit to a palm oil firm to develop the peatland.

This prompted legal action from environmental groups and probes by the police and several government bodies.

The resulting preliminary investigation showed that the permit was issued to palm oil firm Kallista Alam without following proper procedures, a government official said.

The forest, home to endangered orangutans, was partly cleared by burning, even before the permit was issued, said Mas Achmad Santosa, an official at the presidency.

“The case of Kallista Alam in Aceh is the typical problem we are facing … some parts have been turned to palm oil plantations, some have been burned, and it turned out the permit does not exist,” said Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who is in charge of overseeing forestry sector reform.

He said the peatland would again be listed as a protected area.

Former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf issued the permit to open 1,605 hectares of land for palm oil in the Tripa peatland area in August last year.

Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil exporter and has seen rapid growth in production of the edible oil, used to make cooking oil and biscuits, in recent years.

(Reporting by Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by Neil Chatterjee and Jeremy Laurence)

Ministry of Foresty Sent Letter To Aceh Governor Re Tripa Peat Swamp | KOMPAS

Ministry of Foresty Sent Letter To Aceh Governor Re Tripa Peat Swamp

Ichwan Susanto | Marcus Suprihadi

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com- Indonesian Ministry of Forestry sent a letter to the Aceh Governor in order to have details on the permit issued by the former governor, Irwandi Yusuf,  on 1,605 ha to PT Kalista Alam. The respond from the current governor will be utilised as a base either to re-inlude the area into  or to keep the area excluded from the moratorium map.

“We have asked the Governor, whether the permit for PT Kalista Alam is a new permit or an extension,” said Bambang Soepijanto, Director General for Forest Planology of the Ministy of Forestry on Saturday in (19/5/2012) Jakarta.

If the permit for the 1,605 ha in Tripa Peat Swamp (part of Leuser Ecosystem) is a new permit, then the former Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf did not apply the Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 forbidding any issuance of permit starting May 2011.

If it is an extension permit, while plantation and location permit are issued, Bambang declared not to be able to re-include in the moratorium map.

The urgency for the Ministry of Forestry to re-include the 1,605 ha of Tripa Peat Swamp comes from the community, NGOs and the Presidential Working Unit for Development Supervision and Control (UKP4).

WALHI has also sent a letter last February 2012 to the Aceh Govrnor requestng to withdraw the oil palm  plantation permit of 1.605 hektar for PT Kalista Alam in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest.

Indonesia Investigating Palm Oil Companies Over Forest Fires

Indonesia Investigating Palm Oil Companies Over Forest Fires
Ahmad Pathoni | May 15, 2012 | The Jakarta Globe

Joint investigation team arriving at the crime site witness heavy machinary illegally digging drainage canals in deep peat of Tripa Peat Swamp Forest. The Joint investigation team is supported by National Police, Provincial Police and Indonesian Ministry of Environment
Credit: Coalition to save Tripa Forest / Handout / 3/05/2012

Indonesia has launched a criminal investigation into the burning of a peatland forest on Sumatra island that environmentalists said resulted in the deaths of orangutans, an official said on Tuesday.

Investigators will summon officials from two companies suspected of burning a large swath of the Tripa forest to make way for palm oil plantations, said Sudaryono, the head of law enforcement at the Environment Ministry.

“Our investigators found that there have been fires in areas controlled by SPS2 and KA,” he said, referring to palm oil companies Surya Panen Subur 2 and Kallista Alam.

A coalition of local and international conservation groups warned in March that orangutans in the Tripa forest could disappear by the end of this year unless action was taken to stop fires and land clearing there.

The coalition said an estimated 100 orangutans had died in the area in recent years as a result of land clearing, with only 200 remaining.

The government’s task force for the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) program said there were indications that plantation companies cleared more than 1,600 hectares of peatland areas even before they obtained concession permits.

“Law enforcers concluded that there have been legal violations,” task force chief Kuntoro Mangkusubroto said.

Under Indonesia’s environmental law, forest clearing using fires is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 10 billion rupiah ($1 million).

Kallista Alam has denied wrongdoing and blamed local farmers for the fires.

In May 2011, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a decree committing Indonesia to a two-year moratorium on new clearing permits for an area of around 60 million hectares of virgin forest and carbon-rich peatland.

The move was part of the country’s commitment to the REDD program, which aims to reduce climate change from greenhouse gasses.

But in August, the then-governor of Aceh province, Irwandi Yusuf, signed a permit to allow Kallista Alam to operate in Tripa.

The environmental coalition is awaiting a verdict on an appeal seeking the revocation of the permit.

Tripa was included in the moratorium map in April 2011, but it disappeared from a revised version in November, the local environmental group Walhi said.

Greenpeace said in a report released this month that the moratorium had done little to protect forests, with almost 50 percent of the country’s primary forests and peatland without any protection.

The destruction of peatlands releases large amounts of carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change.

Indonesia is among the largest producers of greenhouse gasses, largely owing to the rapid destruction of its forests. It aims to reduce the emissions by at least 26 percent by 2020.

DPA

Regency head calls for stop to palm oil development in contested peat forest in Indonesia

Regency head calls for stop to palm oil development in contested peat forest in Indonesia

Tripa peat swamp.
The location of the Tripa peat swamps (circled) on the west coast of Aceh province, northern Sumatra, showing rivers, forest cover in 1990, peat, and district boundaries. Tripa is the site of a controversial new oil palm plantation that has could put Aceh’s governor in prison. Image courtesy of Tim Koalisi Penyelematan Rawa Tripa, a coalition of community groups seeking legal action against the governor.

The acting head of Nagan Raya Regency — the location of Tripa peat swamp — on Thursday demanded a stop to a controversial palm oil development project that conservationists say threatens a population of endangered orangutans, reports Serambi Indonesia.

Nagan Raya bupati H Azwir told the Aceh-based newspaper that PT Kalista Alam should immediately cease activities in the contested part of Tripa’s peat forest, in Aceh Province on the island of Sumatra. He said that research into the palm oil company’s concession indicated that PT Kalista Alam lacked permission to convert the forest into a plantation.

“We asked the company to immediately stop the activity in the area. Their actions are wrong, because there is no consent,” Azwir is quoted as saying.

Azwir added that PT Kalista Alam may be required to restore the area that area that it damaged.

But Azwir has limited power is stop PT Kalista Alam’s activities according to Elfian Effendi, head of Greenomics-Indonesia.

“The acting regent has the power to ask the company to stop the operation based on certain considerations, especially legal aspects,” Effendi told mongabay.com. “However, the acting regent has no power to revoke the permit because the PT Kalista Alam’s permit was issued by the Aceh Governor.”

Irwandi Yusuf, the governor who issued the permit, has since been voted out of office. Irwandi, who has been championed as a leader in efforts to save Indonesia’s forests, said earlier this year that he granted the license to highlight lack of financial support for forest conservation. Millions of dollars promised by the international community to help protect Aceh’s rainforests have been slow to materialize.

Demands for action in the Tripa case have heated up in recent months after a campaign by a coalition of environmental groups. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the chairman of Indonesia’s REDD+ Taskforce recently demanded a full investigation into PT Kalista Alam’s concession. Kuntoro has since indicated that the contested land could be made off-limits to development under the next iteration of the Indicative Map that is the basis for Indonesia’s two-year moratorium on new concessions in peatlands an primary forest areas.

Effendi said that Azwir’s call could boost the effort to reestablish the Tripa concession as land protected under the moratorium.

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